Minority demands Finance Minister clarifies inconsistent Covid-19 expenditure, rising debt in mid-year budget review

The Minority in Parliament is demanding clarification from the Finance Minister on the country’s rising debt and discrepancies in Covid-19 related expenditure ahead of the presentation of the 2021 mid-year budget review statement.

NDC MP on the Finance Committee, Ben Kpodo, speaking to JoyNews’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo on Wednesday stated that Mr Ken Ofori Atta must be candid in his report to the nation, adding that the Ministry must provide solutions to the financial challenges.

“We know the dire situation the economy is in so I expect the Minister will come tomorrow and be truthful to the nation. Already, we have gotten snippets of shortfalls in revenue. He should tell us why these shortfalls are happening and what measures the government will adopt to check these reductions in our revenue expectations.

“Also, [he should address] the borrowing which has led the country to a very severe debt risk situation. He should find a way of curtailing the borrowing and institute measures to start the redemption of our debt. We are unhappy about the way expenditures are being managed. They don’t have the details. They give this figure today and tomorrow they give another. Look at the contradictory figures being given from the Covid-19 expenditure on water.

“So expenditure management and accountability are key issues the Minister should address,” he stated.

According to Mr Kpado, since the Akufo-Addo administration assumed office, they abandoned the sinking fund established to service debts created when Mr Seth Tepker was Finance Minister under the erstwhile Mahama administration.

But he quickly added stating “it was only last year they reintroduced it [sinking fund].”

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta will, on Thursday, present the mid-year review of the budget statement and economic policy of the government and supplementary estimate for the 2021 financial year to Parliament.

He will appear before the House at 10 am.

Meanwhile, NPP MP on the Finance Committee, Stephen Amoah, has acknowledged the grievances of his colleagues on the opposing side.

Also, he is optimistic the incumbent government has laid down the right tools to turn the fate of the economy around after being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I know where they are coming from. They know this time, it is very difficult because if you want to spend, you should generate. Our debt levels are high, we cannot impose more taxes and without this, how are we going to work?

“So I agree with what they are saying but I promise them, knowing our government, our economic policy direction as a fraternity, being a capitalist, we are going to give the best that Ghanaians are expecting to harmonize these areas, create more jobs, reduce the cost of living, increase the standard of living and make sure we consolidate, restore and continue our debt levels with a manageable framework,” he stated.

However, he condemned the Minority for being hard on the incumbent government due to rising debt. For him, the NDC should be the last body to criticise government particularly when it plunged the country into a 140 per cent debt-to-GDP ratio in 2000.

“Our colleagues have taken us to over 140 per cent debt to GDP before and we lived. Go and check the year 2000, when the NDC was handing over power to us our debt to GDP ratio was 140 per cent. Did we? So what are they talking about?” he quizzed.